The Consultative Sale

The best way to sell is the consultative sale.

The best way to get people’s attention is to help them solve their problems, give them solutions, and most of all be valuable to them. The mistake that most people make is to blast off about how good their product is without taking into consideration what the customer thinks about it (if she even cares) What the customer does care about is her business, her challenges and her problems and how she can solve them. What a good salesperson, has to do is find out what those issues, and challenges are and then explain how his products can solve those problems.

It all boils down to this; When the customer hears that you are in the lobby waiting to see him, he should be happy to see you because you know what his problems are, and what is needed to solve them. If you can get this reputation with your customers, you will do very well. If on the other hand when the customer hears you are in the lobby and tries to do everything possible to avoid seeing you, you know that he feels you are bringing no solutions, and in short, no value.

Okay, so how do we bring value to our customers? Easy, be more interested in what their needs are than what you want them to buy. You have to be able to understand how their business works, what they need from a good supplier and then find ways to meet or exceed those needs. The buyer is always looking for solutions, he is always looking for ways to make his life easier and he is looking for his suppliers to provide these things to him. As a salesperson, you are in the business of selling solutions, not creating problems.

Here are five ways to be your customers’ expert consultant, her solutions provider:

  1. Ask questions and then listen. Find out everything you can about your customers, business including what they need to succeed, what they need to meet their customers needs and then make sure you find a way to meet those needs.
  2. Once you have a good understanding of what the customer needs, then do your best to provide the solution to those needs. If this means changing your product, then do it. Remember, you have no business without customers.
  3. Anticipate your customers’ needs. Become so informed as to what your customer needs to be successful  that you start to understand not only what they need from you today but what they are going to need from you in the future. Anticipate their future needs and find ways to meet those needs before they are even required. This is being a super salesperson.
  4. Offer unsolicited information that you know will be helpful. Always be on the lookout for ways to please your customer. Look for articles, books, or other information pertaining directly to your customers’ business needs and make sure you send it to them. This way you are always in front of them, you are always selling, you are always providing solutions even when you are not together.
  5. In terms of content marketing, write articles, columns and white papers demonstrating your unbiased expertise in your market. The best way to represent yourself and your company as a true expert is to produce and publish valuable content that helps your customer. The key word is valuable. The content has to be unbiased, (it cannot be a flagrant sales pitch selling your specific product) but rather general information and best practice advice in an area that your customers needs information on. Most markets have a vacuum at the top because most companies tend to look alike to an uninformed buyer. But the company that starts putting out valuable public content will claim that leadership position. Just the way Apple did with the I-Pod, they did not have the best product, but they had the best story (ten thousand songs in your pocket) so that buyers eschewed  all the other, and in some cases, better brands of MP3 players to buy the Apple product. The same thing can happen to you if you take the lead position, the expert position by putting out content so valuable it will be widely read by your customers.

And one more, under promise and over deliver. Care, really care, about your customers’ general welfare. Help them in any way you can. Establish a circle of loyalty with your customers and it will pay off in the long run. It’s only common sense.

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